First-time in Macau
Macau is a fusion of the East and West. There are Chinese influences everywhere as evidenced in its temples and the Chinese features of the people. At the same time, it has remnants of the Portuguese descent from the old churches to some food and restaurants. The first thing to do when in Macau is to visit the Macau Tower, famous for its sky jumping and sky walking. Coming from Hong Kong, we were there at a best time because they were hosting the East Asian Games 2005. (For more details about traveling to Macau, check my post Macau for First-time Travelers.)
Not-to-miss tourist spots are the Leal Senado, St. Paul Ruins, and St. Dominic Church, to name a few. Don’t forget the Guia Lighthouse, the Macau Fortress, and the Maritime Museum, which is beside A-mah Temple. At the northeast part of the city is the Barrier Gate, which is the gateway to mainland China. Buses ply most of these areas, so it’s really easy for a tourist to go around.
The Leal Senado has various shops, both high-end and low-end. Everything seems to be walking distance from that place. Street food, which travelers should try, can also be found in the square. The short cable car ride to the lighthouse is something to look forward to. Atop the lighthouse, one can see Casino Lisboa and the Macau Tower.
November (in 2005) was a busy month for Macau with the Catholic holidays and the East Asian Games. Also, the Grand Prix was coming up, which everyone seems to be looking forward to. For adventurers seeking a thrill in sky jumping and sky walking, an entrance of MOP60 to the tower and an additional fee for the equipment was needed. There were discount coupons to various restaurants and shops offered at their information center.
Best Way to Get Around:
The public bus in Macau is tourist-friendly. It has numbers provided in bus stops, and most buses pass by tourist destinations. Every bus ride costs MOP2.50, no matter what the distance is. Some buses provide information of their next stops, while maps also have the bus numbers stopping in a particular area. Taxis are flagged down at MOP10, but if you prefer short walks and the public buses, take the cabs as a last option.
We were in a hurry to catch our flight back to the Philippines. We checked in our baggage and went to this restaurant near the airport, somewhere in the Taipa Village. Though we were pressed for time, we really enjoyed the food. One of my friends said, “Too bad we’re in a hurry. If we had the whole time to ourselves, we could’ve enjoyed the food more.” The staff is helpful and friendly too.
The place is nicely decorated and very colorful and lively. It has a Portuguese theme which speaks of Macau’s history, being a former colony of Portugal. “Galo” means chicken, thus the logo and the decors are mostly that of a hen.
Behind Sao Paulo Church’s Facade
The statues and paintings that survived the ruins of Sao Paulo Church are kept behind the church. They speak of the Portuguese influence on the Macanese through Christianity. Looking at the images, they seem to come alive, bringing you to the time of Macau’s great devotion.
Take the cable car from the Jardim de Flora and you will see the beautiful gardens of Guia. On the way to the top of the hill, locals are seen doing Tai Chi and other forms of physical exercise. The lighthouse opens at around 10am, and since we were there very early, it was still not available to visitors. However, one can already go up towards the lighthouse and see the entire Macau cityscape. The new Macau-Taipa Bridge and the Macau Tower can be seen. Numerous Portuguese-inspired houses are also visible. It’s a great place to be for serenity and to see the beauty of Macau.
In the Streets of Macau
Macau is such a colorful place. It is full of arts, history, and sights. By day it reveals the Portuguese-inspired buildings as well as traces of Chinese heritage through its temples. Senate Square is a place that marries the old and the new with its old churches and buildings as well as branded shops that speak of a globalize world. At night, the Leal Senado lights up revealing a glorious landscape. In one of those streets, we passed by a vendor and tried their street foods. They’re the best ever! There’s this giant green chili filled with some flour and local flavorings. It was totally unique, awesome, and adventurous.
Fu Hua Hotel
When we arrived at the hotel, we had difficulty communicating with the reception but they were patient and friendly. Good thing there were Macau maps & guide at the reception which were helpful to us. The rooms were clean with comfortable beds and complete with TV sets, aircon and private baths.
Fu Hua has a good location. Buses pass by in front of the hotel and restaurants & convenient stores are a walking distance. It is even a few blocks away from the Guia Lighthouse.
At that time, there were so many media people covering the East Asian Games who were billeted in Fu Hua. Elevators were always full that we had to take the stairs.
I’d like to go back to Macau to explore more of this Chinese territory. I felt that our stay there was too short and we never got around to really see the whole of Macau.